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Minimum wage increase and bereavement leave.

From 1 April 2021, the minimum wage rates will be increasing. There are three types of minimum wage rates, which will all be increasing as follows:

  • The adult minimum wage rate will increase from $18.90 to $20 per hour;
  • The starting-out minimum wage rate will increase from $15.12 to $16 per hour; and
  • The training minimum wage rate will increase from $15.12 to $16 per hour.


In accordance with New Zealand employment law, all employees must be paid at least the minimum wage for all hours worked (unless an exemption under the Minimum Wage Act 1983 applies). Businesses should ensure that their payroll systems are equipped to implement these minimum wage rate increases on 1 April 2021.

In addition to the minimum wage rate increases, we are expecting further changes to New Zealand employment laws. Some of these changes are as follows:

  • On 24 March 2021, the Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Act (No 2) 2019 passed its third reading. The next step is for the bill to receive Royal Assent and once this occurs, the bill will become law. The purpose of the bill is to provide employees and their partners with up to three days’ bereavement leave if a pregnancy ends by way of miscarriage or still-birth.
  • The Holidays (Increasing Sick Leave) Amendment Bill passed its first reading on 1 December 2020. The bill is still making its way through Parliament and would see employee sick leave entitlements increasing from five days to ten.
  • Matariki has been confirmed as a new public holiday and is expected to be observed for the first time on 24 June 2022. Legislation is expected to be introduced later this year to amend the Holidays act 2003 and include the new public holiday.


Employers should ensure that their employment agreements and Staff Handbooks are updated in order to comply with the above changes, as well as the changes to privacy that were announced last year with the introduction of the Privacy Act 2020.


If you have any queries or concerns, get in touch with our Commercial Law Team to discuss. 

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